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Consequences of Collective Amnesia 18 December 2006

Posted by MOZAFFAR in Politics, Psychology.

I don’t know if the goal of the recent conference in Iran was really about denying the Holocaust. We know that Ahmadenijad never said that Israel should be “wiped off the map.” We also know that just about anything that comes out of the Muslim populations of the world will be spun in the most negative of ways.

Further, we also know that many forces exploit the Holocaust as justification for other international actions.

Having said that, I have to wonder what is worse: being the architect of a genocide or denying that such a genocide ever occured. Let’s add a third category: acknowledging that a genocide occurred, but minimizing the degree of the atrocities. I don’t know what’s worse.

When speaking about genocides, we should assume that the worst happened in those genocides. I don’t even want to imagine the possibilities of how bad things could get. But, we should imagine the worst.

Why is this memory point so important? Because after we have dropped law and morality, it may only be our memories of such atrocities that would make us afraid — as a nation or a race — of the risk of committing such atrocities again. The second we forget about the Trans-Atlantic slave trade or the annihilation of the Native Americans, we have opened the door for another generations-long atrocity. The second we forget about the Holocaust, the Jews are in trouble. Most people forgot about Bosnia almost immediately, and almost immediately, we witnessed the genocide at Kosova. And, it seems to me that we have already forgotten Kosova.

Likewise, in our collective amnesia, our timeline regarding the War on Terror only reaches back to the atrocities of 9/11. We have a war in Iraq that began long before 9/11. We have already forgotten the lives of as many as 500,000 or perhaps even 1,000,000 Iraqis who have died as a result of the sanctions imposted upon them throughout the 1990s.

How many genocides from the past 100 years can you remember? Go online and search to see how many you can remember, and how many you have forgotten.

And, when you look at the numbers, consider that each individual was born from a mother and father as a delicate little baby, and each individual had a name. When you look at the numbers, remember that it’s a population of innocent people who are getting killed. The real perpetrators of crimes rarely get caught.

When you look at the numbers, remember that as soon as one person is killed, that we’ve killed something more valuable than the entire universe, a human soul. And, remember that each individual will rise up to face his/her Creator.

The second we forget about a genocide, we will have forgotten how horrible human nature can be when it snowballs in the wrong direction. The second we forget about genocide, we also begin to idealize the limits of negligence and our collective amnesia. The second we forget about genocide, we begin to regard ourselves as immune. We regard ourselves as being immune from being victims of genocide and from being perpetrators. The consequences are, again and again, beyond human comprehension.



1. Irving - 18 December 2006

“He who forgets history is condemned to repeat it.”

– George Santayana

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